Beginning the Breakup Prior to the New Year
by Michael Heath
Some have labeled January as “divorce month” since it is taken for granted that many people in failing marriages decide to file for divorce once the holidays are over. Lawyers usually report that the trends are more seasonal than month specific. Their offices tend to become much busier during the first quarter of the year while experiencing a drop-off in activity in the final months. Smart people can take advantage of these tendencies.
Why Do People Put Off Beginning the Divorce Process?
Many spouses will make the decision to end their marriage with the intention to contact an attorney as soon as January comes around. The belief may be that a new year means a new start. Most people do not want to mix the messiness of divorce with holidays related to peace and family togetherness. Parents often want to avoid having their children associate the year end festivities with mom’s and dad’s uncoupling. The reasons for hesitating until after the first of the year are frequently all the above.
What Can Be Done in the Fall?
The best time to reach out to a chosen attorney may be when law offices are quieter. This certainly does not mean that a petition for divorce must be filed then. It could be a good time to speak with a lawyer or mediator to explain a couple’s intentions. The discussion would include how to prepare for the inevitable. Some of the documents can be gathered prior to year’s end so no time is wasted in the interim. It is not advisable to hire a mediator prior to getting one’s spouse to agree to move forward with the mediation process. However, it is okay to speak with one on a consultation basis. Paying a retainer to a marital attorney is fine as it gives the client continued access to the lawyer. There may even be a sense of relief that the process has begun.
Silence Is Golden
If one of the goals is to not disrupt the holidays, then it is best to keep the divorce activities private. Of course, it may be okay to confide in a close relative or friend. It is important to be very discretionary. Not everyone will have someone’s best interest at heart. They may even pick sides. A person reporting back to a spouse on the future break-up or spreading the news among the children would certainly upset seasonal celebrations. People need to realize it is their divorce, and they should control how information is dispensed.
Beginning the End
Divorce is a tragedy that has a beginning and an end. Starting the process at any time of the year needs to be well thought out. Those who make the decision to move forward should realize that extracting themselves from a bad situation now pushes the door open to happier times in the future.